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HeadlinesAugust 20, 2019

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NYPD Fires Daniel Pantaleo 5 Years After He Killed Eric Garner

Aug 20, 2019

The New York City police officer who killed Eric Garner in 2014 by using an illegal chokehold has been fired. New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill announced his decision Monday, just over five years after the killing, which sparked nationwide outrage. Daniel Pantaleo used the banned chokehold on unarmed African American Eric Garner until he dropped to the ground. Garner gasped “I can’t breathe” 11 times. Pantaleo had remained on the police force on desk duty. A New York grand jury decided in 2014 not to charge him, and last month the Justice Department said he would also not face federal charges. Earlier this month, a police administrative judge found the officer guilty of violating the NYPD ban on chokeholds and recommended he be fired. This is Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, speaking Monday at a rally outside the police headquarters.

Gwen Carr: “I’m still out here. I’m out here for the long run. You come out here against me, I’m out here, and you cannot scare me away. Yeah, Pantaleo, you may have lost your job, but I lost a son. January — I’m sorry — July 17, 2014, I lost my son. You cannot replace that. You can get another job.”

We’ll be joined by Eric Garner’s youngest daughter, Emerald Garner, after headlines.

Planned Parenthood Rejects Federal Funds over Trump “Gag Rule” on Abortion Referrals

Aug 20, 2019

Planned Parenthood has withdrawn from Title X, the federal program that funds family planning services for millions of low-income people, as they refuse to comply with the Trump administration’s ban on abortion referrals. Planned Parenthood receives $60 million per year through Title X. The move could affect 1.5 million people per year who access birth control and other health services through the organization. In some states, Planned Parenthood serves all or nearly all low-income patients who benefit from Title X. The Trump administration’s so-called gag order is being legally challenged by Planned Parenthood and over 20 states, but a federal court ruled last month the change can still take effect while the lawsuits were pending. Acting President of Planned Parenthood Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement, “Congress must act now. It’s time for the U.S. Senate to act to pass a spending bill that will reverse the harmful rule and restore access to birth control, STD testing, and other critical services to people with low-incomes. People’s lives depend on it.”

Fears of Renewed Arms Race as U.S. Tests Ground Missile and Questions Remain over Russian Blast

Aug 20, 2019

The United States has tested a ground-launched medium-range cruise missile — just weeks after Trump formally withdrew from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Such a test would have been banned under the INF. Russia today condemned the test and said the U.S. is increasing “the destabilizing potential” of the situation.

Meanwhile, an international arms control official said that four Russian nuclear-monitoring stations went silent following a mysterious blast almost two weeks ago off Russia’s northern coast. U.S. experts suspect it was caused during a test of a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Seven people, mostly nuclear scientists, are believed to have died in the explosion, which caused a radiation spike in the surrounding area — and possibly even as far as Scandinavia — and fueled concerns over a renewed nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Russia.

Sudan: Omar al-Bashir Heads to Court Days After Signing of Transitional Deal

Aug 20, 2019

Deposed Sudanese President Omar-al Bashir’s corruption trial started Monday. An investigator told the court that al-Bashir received $90 million from Saudi Arabia, which included $25 million from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Al-Bashir is charged with illicit possession of foreign currency and accepting unofficial gifts. According to the investigator, the disgraced president admitted to accepting the money from the Saudi royal family but could not remember details of how it was exchanged or spent. In addition to his corruption trial, al-Bashir is accused of other crimes including ordering the killing of protesters and possible war crimes in Darfur.

The trial started two days after the Transitional Military Council and leaders of the opposition signed a power-sharing deal, which paves the way for democratic elections and a transition to a civilian government. Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April by military forces after months of popular protest.

Salvadoran Rape Survivor Cleared After Prior Conviction for Killing Stillborn

Aug 20, 2019

In El Salvador, a 21-year-old rape survivor, who was being retried on aggravated homicide charges for having a stillborn birth in 2016, has been acquitted. A court in El Salvador — where abortion is illegal — sentenced Evelyn Hernández to 30 years in prison in 2017, but the conviction was later annulled before heading back to trial earlier this month. This is Evelyn Hernández speaking after her acquittal.

Evelyn Hernández: “I know it’s been tough all this time, being in the courtroom and seeing how I was being accused of something that I was innocent of. And I also ask — there are many women who are still locked up, and I call for them to be freed soon, too.”

Twitter & Facebook Remove China-Linked Accounts over Hong Kong Protest Misinformation

Aug 20, 2019

Twitter and Facebook removed close to 1,000 accounts they believe were linked to the Chinese government and were spreading misinformation and “sow[ing] political discord” around the protests in Hong Kong. Twitter also said Monday it will no longer publish ads from state-controlled media outlets, in order to “protect healthy discourse and open conversation.”

Elizabeth Warren Apologizes to Indigenous Groups at Iowa Native American Forum

Aug 20, 2019

Nine 2020 candidates are participating in the first presidential forum on Native American issues in Sioux City, Iowa this week. On Monday, Senator Elizabeth Warren issued an apology to Native American communities.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “I know that I have made mistakes. I am sorry for harm I have caused. I have listened, and I have learned a lot. And I am grateful for the many conversations that we have had together. It is a great honor to be able to partner with Indian Country, and that’s what I’ve tried to do as a senator, and that’s what I promise I will do as president of the United States of America.”

Elizabeth Warren came under fire last year after she released the results of a DNA test as evidence of her Native American ancestry.

Ahead of this week’s Iowa forum, Warren unveiled her “Honoring and Empowering Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples” plan. The plan includes expanding affordable housing and locally administered healthcare in indigenous communities, expanding broadband access, strengthening voting rights, restoring tribal jurisdiction over crimes committed on Native land, and a pledge to revoke the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline permits.

More 2020 candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Julián Castro — who last month introduced his own plan to bolster indigenous rights — are appearing at the forum today.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Asks Federal Court to Halt DAPL & Carry Out Review

Aug 20, 2019

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe asked a federal court in Washington, D.C., Friday to halt operations of the Dakota Access pipeline until a full environmental assessment is completed. The Army Corps of Engineers issued an easement in 2017 allowing for the construction of DAPL despite widespread protests that garnered international support. A court later found the easement violated the law, and remanded the issue back to the Army Corps, which the Sioux Tribe says conducted a “sham process” in order to go ahead with construction.

Meanwhile, the company behind the pipeline, Dakota Access LLC — which is owned by Energy Transfer Partners — is planning to expand its operations, doubling the amount of oil it transports from 570,000 to 1.1 million barrels per day. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is calling on North Dakota officials to hold a public hearing and properly evaluate the risks of the pipeline expansion to the tribe and the environment.

Bernie Sanders Introduces Criminal Justice Reform Plan

Aug 20, 2019

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled his plan to reform the country’s “racist and broken” criminal justice system Sunday. The 2020 hopeful wants to end profiteering in the criminal justice system, and plans to ban cash bail and civil asset forfeiture, legalize marijuana, abolish the death penalty, boost funding for public defenders, increase accountability for law enforcement, stop criminalization of homelessness and addiction, and allow prisoners and those with felony convictions to vote — among many other measures. Sanders announced the plan while campaigning in South Carolina.

Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar Respond to Israel Travel Ban

Aug 20, 2019

Congressmembers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib held a press conference Monday in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to address Israel’s decision to bar them from entering the country. Israel later granted permission for Tlaib to visit her family in occupied Palestine on “humanitarian” grounds, but she rejected the offer, which included the condition that she not promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Congressmember Omar blasted Netanyahu for trying to suppress opposition to the Israeli occupation, as well as their ability to perform the duties of their job. This is Congressmember Tlaib, speaking here about her 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in the West Bank.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib: “All I can do as her granddaughter is help humanize her and the Palestinian people’s plight. I know that when we can finally see them as deserving of human dignity, everyone who lives there will be able to live in peace. It is unfortunate that Prime Minister Netanyahu has apparently taken a page out of Trump’s book and even direction from Trump to deny this opportunity.”

9th Circuit Rolls Back Part of Trump Asylum Ban Injunction

Aug 20, 2019

In immigration news, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Friday partially rolled back an injunction blocking the Trump administration’s ban on most asylum seekers seeking refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border. The court determined that U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar applied an overly broad injunction last month by blocking the policy nationwide. The new ruling means that Trump’s ban can now go ahead in the border states of New Mexico and Texas, which are outside of the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction. The ruling upholds the injunction in California and Arizona. Dissenting Judge A. Wallace Tashima said the majority’s decision will create confusion at the border and in the courts, writing, “Should asylum law be administered differently in Texas than in California?”

Prosecutors Move to Dismiss Epstein Charges But Vow to Keep Investigating

Aug 20, 2019

New York prosecutors on Monday moved to dismiss the sex trafficking charges against Jeffrey Epstein following his death, but vowed to continue seeking justice for survivors of his abuse by investigating his co-conspirators. This came as Attorney General William Barr removed the nation’s top prison official, Hugh Hurwitz.

Meanwhile, new court documents show Epstein signed a will two days before his death. He left behind a $577 million estate, but details of beneficiaries are not known. New York City’s medical examiner confirmed Friday Jeffrey Epstein’s cause of death was suicide by hanging.

Trump Admin Attempts to Legalize Anti-Trans Workplace Discrimination

Aug 20, 2019

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court Friday to legalize the firing of transgender workers. The Justice Department argued that the Civil Rights Act only protects employees from discrimination based on their “biological sex.” The legal brief was introduced as part of a lawsuit in which a transgender woman was fired from a Michigan funeral home after she announced plans to transition, after six years of employment. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on this and two other cases involving anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination on October 8.

ACLU attorney Chase Strangio said, “People don’t realize that the stakes are extending not just to the trans and LGB communities, but every person who departs from sex stereotypes: Women who want to wear pants in the workplace, men who want more childbearing responsibilities. Those protections are also in peril.”

Tracy Single Is 15th Known Trans Woman of Color to Be Killed in 2019

Aug 20, 2019

Tracy Single, a 22-year-old transgender woman, is believed to be the 16th transgender person — and the 15th trans woman of color — killed this year. Single’s body was found in Houston, Texas, on July 30, but authorities were only able to identify her last week. The Human Rights Campaign called for justice for Tracy Single and said, “[We] will continue to hold the Trump administration and all elected officials who fuel the flames of hate accountable at the ballot box. This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender people of color — particularly Black transgender women — must cease.”

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